So Facebook renamed its parent company to ”Meta”, in preparation for the coming of the metaverse, its own version of mixing VR and AR technologies with reality. Like how Microsoft tried with “mixed reality”. Like how Google Glasses initially tried back in 2014.
What does this mean for the future of the internet?
This can be great for games. This can be great for businesses with an international presence. This could be great for disabled or injured people to better interact with our ableist society. There could be new ways to help people with various phobias, especially agoraphobia … this could help aid in treating trans people with extreme body dysphoria before they undergo gender affirmative therapy.
One way many trans people try to relieve their gender dysphoria is playing video games as a character with same gender identity they associate with; comparatively, these technologies could allow a trans person to design a live, 3D digital representation of themselves as their true gender, to live as a digital version of themself as a member of their gender identity that interacts with the real world (albeit remotely). Adjust their height, change their vocal tone and pitch, manipulate the appear of secondary physical characteristics, whatever they need to manipulate to look more like something they are comfortable presenting as. Others would address them properly without asking for pronouns, without deadnaming, possibly even avoid discrimination or harassment. Work, order out, go on virtual dates, socialize, you name it!
This could also be far cheaper for trans people to access and utilize, compared to traditional gender affirmative therapies and surgeries.
Like with video game and internet addictions, though, this could create an addiction where trans folx may not want to log off, as re-emerging into the real world could create a serious resurgence in dysphoria. They could become social recluses and just interact with the world remotely, not unlike the hikikomori of Japan, the tang ping of China, or the various sedae of Korea. Real world relationships get disrupted or ghosted. Sleep and basic hygiene may be skipped to avoid having to deal with their real-world body; constantly be stimulated by the artificial lights from whatever device used to interact may interrupt their circadian rhythm and worsen other health issues. Impulses may increase. Without actually and physically eating and drinking, they may begin to suffer malnutrition; because their online friends and associates may only see them virtually/augmently, they may not know what’s going and if something were to happen, not know to call paramedics. If the IP address is protected, this can open them up to threats by their local government if they are queerphobic and transphobic
The benefits and drawbacks of this evolution of the Internet will be exponentially greater than what the current internet allows. Thanks to the internet, trans people can better find others like ourselves (especially if, like me, they are from conservative small-town and rural areas), find safe spaces, find online resources, and be able to some extent live as our authentic selves if they can’t socially or physically transition offline. The internet also makes us easier targets for online and real-world harassment and discrimination if doxed or otherwise outed. The future will only expand these—it’s best we take this optimistically, as well as cautiously.